Evanston Running Club does a fantastic job putting on this event. While it really pulls at the heartstrings of those who ran cross country in school, it is none the less also a fantastic introduction to the sport for adult-onset racers as well.
The race is hosted at the same site as my high school state regional meet near Old Orchard Mall, off I-94, and is relatively easy to get to from the city. The course is flat and fast over dirt and grass. Since it you are more or less running four loops, this event is great for spectators as they can see you multiple times per mile if desired.
An open race for those without team affiliations is offered, however the real draw are the Masters' (40+) and Open team competitions. Clubs from the Greater Chicagoland area come to compete for an informal "Illinois Club Cross Country Championship" title. Both the Masters' race and the Open race feature top notch competition. Winners receive pint glasses to commemorate their achievement.
As much fun as it is to hurt for 5000m, the post race party (who's main fixture is a keg of craft beer) is probably the highlight. Enjoying a fall day with fellow harriers while knocking back a few cold ones is the brilliant crux of the event. They also have plenty of bananas (they were giving them away in bunches as we were leaving), breakfast bars, and hot dogs for post-race consumption!
So while there isn't really swag (except pint glasses) and there aren't aid stations (except the keg), I still have given the event very high marks in both regards. Cross country is where I really got my start racing and this is a wonderful event that celebrates the sport.
Also Craig Virgin, Illinois native, Illinois HS, NCAA, AAU, and World Cross Country Champion, and multiple time US Olympian helps MC/host the event which is unique in its own right.